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Missing The Point

Yes, the question posed to Rumsfeld was not spontaneous, yes the question was brought to his attention through means that ensured it would get asked. No, I don’t have a problem with any of that. It’s only right that it happens to Rumsfeld or some member of the Bush team.

Elected and appointed officials of this government have a duty to answer to those they make decisions for, and this administration has done its damndest to avoid answering the the questions asked of them. It’s about time one hit them right between the eyes.

Spin, spin, spin. It doesn't matter to the Republicans that troop cheered the question. It's the one they all wanted to ask, but that doesn't matter to the Republicans. They just care that their dear, sainted Secretary of Defense was put on the spot.

Apparently they've forgotten that this is precisely the kind of uncomfortable position our politicians and officials are supposed to be in: explaining their policies and their mistakes. The reporter undoubtedly felt that the question would never get asked of the Secretary so long as he had to wait behind all the friendly reporters that Rumsfeld would call on first.

For so long, this administration has done its best to avoid uncomfortable questions. They've exiled reporters who ask the tough questions, threatened to freeze out those news organizations that don't play nice about Bush's policies, and restricted membership in their audiences to those willing to sign loyalty oaths.

Questions are vetted ahead of time, and effusively praise the president, and the people who ask them believe the best of their Commander in Chief.

The Secretary of Defense's attitudes are little different. He has been famously short-tempered with critics, with tough questions, with anybody who didn't simply go his way on things.

In all that time, they have not learned to answer by policy or by words the real questions Americans need answered. One could say the two are related. One does not act accountably when one is not held to account.

Minor ethical quibbles are raised to avoid answering that question, to avoid addressing the discontent among our soldiers. It all becomes a game of the poor old administration, beset on all sides by doubters, quibblers, and those who lack the vision to do things their way, the right way. It's all about whether the reporter has blue-state politics, not whether his charges are true. It's all about the question being set up, not about the responses the question got, and what that means about the conditions there.

The Republicans are finding every reason to doubt the truth of the things they're hearing about the war other than the reason that would matter, if it were the case: that the allegations were unfounded.

Personally, I am just sick of the word games, of the twisting of phrase, the smokescreen of partisan politics, used to bait the audience to distract them from what the party won't, and probably can't prove false.

They have continually missed the point of why these things are brought up. The purpose here is not just to embarass the Bush Adminstration, but to shame them into doing what they should have done in the first place. Whether that's basing a war on good intelligence, getting our logistics straight and planning to deal with worst cases, it doesn't matter- the questions are meant to provoke action, and to force solutions on a government that been dragging it's feet, trying to save political face.

It is time for the Bush administration to start fighting the real war: not it's one against the newsrooms that don't kow-tow to it, but the one against the insurgents, who are using our supply problems, our manpower problems, and the resentment of the people we are trying to save against us. Stop fighting our questions, Mr. Rumsfeld, and start fighting this war right.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at December 10, 2004 12:46 PM